Pegasus Spy ware inquiry: MEPs finish fact-finding visit to Israel

Following the alleged use of the Pegasus surveillance spyware against journalists, politicians, law enforcement officials, diplomats, lawyers, business people, civil society actors and other citizens, the European Parliament decided in March to establish a new committee of inquiry to investigate the use of Pegasus and other surveillance spyware, and whether this use has breached EU law and fundamental rights. The committee is expected to submit a final report after 12 months of work and make recommendations on how to address the threats to key democratic values and civil rights. The committee plans to visit Poland and Hungary in the second half of 2022 and possibly other countries in 2023.
From 18 to 20 July, a delegation of MEPs from the Inquiry Committee on Pegasus and other spyware visited Israel to discuss spyware with industry figures, stakeholders and experts.
Between 18 to 20 July 2022, a 9-member delegation of the European Parliament’s Committee of inquiry investigating the use of Pegasus and equivalent surveillance spyware (PEGA) travelled to Israel.
The delegation was headed by Committee Chair Jeroen LENAERS (EPP, Netherlands). After the visit, he said:
“It was an interesting and fruitful visit. Even though Pegasus is not the only focus of our Committee’s work, it was important to be here to gather more information and knowledge through our exchanges with a diverse group of interlocutors. It is too early to draw any conclusions, but this visit has certainly underlined the need for additional efforts at the European level to prevent the abuse of such technology in the future. Many questions still remain open and need to be investigated further”.
Sophie in ‘t Veld (Renew, Netherlands), PEGA rapporteur, said after the visit: “NSO Group is not the only vendor, but certainly one of the biggest. It has sold spyware to fourteen EU governments, using export licenses issued by the Israeli government. This visit gave us new insights, including in the ineffectiveness of the safeguards against abuse, and it strengthened our conviction that the EU needs much tighter regulation of the sale, purchase and use of such spyware.”
MEPs representing all political groups met with representatives of the government, Knesset, experts and civil society, as well as with the manufacturer of Pegasus spyware NSO Group to discuss abuses of mercenary surveillance tools and their impact on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in the EU.
The delegation was composed by: Jeroen Lenaers (Chair, EPP, Netherlands)Sophia in ’t Veld (PEGA rapporteur, Renew, Netherlands)Juan Ignacio Zoido Alvarez (EPP, Spain)Hannes Heide (S&D, Austria)Dragoş Tudorache (Renew, Romania)Diana Riba i Giner (Greens/EFA, Spain)Lars Patrick Berg (ECR, Germany) Gilles Lebreton (ID, France) and Anne-Sophie Pelletier (the Left, France).